The Kerala government on Saturday decided to permit the reopening of theatres in the state from October 25. The announcement came after a high-level meeting conducted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, The New Indian Express reported.
The government has allowed theatres to reopen with 50% occupancy. The staff and audience at the theatres should have taken both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. A more detailed set of guidelines and standard operating procedures will be issued soon.
On September 21, Kerala’s Cultural Minister Saji Cherian noted that the test positivity rate (TPR) is reducing and that the final call on reopening of theatres and cinema halls will be taken soon.
After being shut down for around 10 months in 2020, theatres in Kerala reopened on January 13, 2021, with Vijay‘s Tamil film Master. In April 2021, in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic, theatres in the state gradually shut down following the imposition of strict restrictions to reduce the surging Covid-19 cases. Films like the Rajisha Vijayan– starter Kho Kho and the Manju Warrier starter Chathur Mukham were withdrawn from theatres in April and since then the theatres have remained shut down.
While there have been relaxations for various sectors in a phased manner, cinema theatres which were one of the worst-hit industries, saw some ray of hope with the recent announcement.
Meanwhile, speaking to Silverscreen India, FEUOK’s General Secretary Sumesh Joseph Manarcaud, welcoming the government’s decision, said that the theatre owners are ready to reopen the theatres on October 25.
“We had previously presented a set of demands to the government including the waiver of various taxes and a financial package to support the revival of the business. Some of the major demands are complete waiver of the fixed electricity charges for 20 months when the theatres were closed, exemption of building tax and removal of double tax–entertainment tax upon GST,” he added.
Noting that the minister agreed to consider the demands, Sumesh said that the minister would be chairing a meeting with the film exhibitors and other stakeholders of the film industry to discuss the further plan of action. When asked about film releases, he said that the exhibitors will hold discussions with producers and distributors after meeting with the government, post which release dates will be finalised.
Makers of a few Malayalam films have already announced their plans for theatrical release.
Star, the upcoming Malayalam film starring Joju George, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Sheelu Abraham and Gayathri Ashok, will be among the first few films to release as soon as the theatres reopen in Kerala, the film’s project designer Badusha NM announced recently. Ajagajantharam, the Malayalam action film starring Antony Varghese, will meanwhile release in around 300 theatres during the Pooja holidays, Varghese announced recently. The makers of the film had postponed the release of the film in March 2021, indefinitely due to the lack of second shows in Kerala.
Filmmaker Unnikrishnan B who has directed and co-produced Aaraattu, the upcoming Malayalam action-drama film starring Mohanlal, announced that the film will release in theatres. “Since it’s a big-budget film, the situation needs to be assessed before releasing the film. We will announce the release date of Aarattu by November,” he added.
Actor Appani Sarath-starrer Mission C will release in theatres, film’s director Vinod Guruvayoor shared on social media. He also noted that Roshika Enterprises Singapore has bought the film’s distribution rights.
Hridayam, the upcoming Malayalam film starring actors Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Darshana Rajendran, will also wait for a theatrical release, director Vineeth Sreenivasan announced on social media.
Kerala, on Sunday, recorded 12,297 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the total number of active cases in the state to 1,37,043.